Sunday, December 30, 2012

Album Review: Ill Bliss – Oga Boss

Ill Bliss – Oga Boss (Hip-Hop / Rap – Nov 2012) 

Here's the first in a series of home grown "glocal content" music and book reviews. This feature is on Ill Bliss' latest album - Oga Boss.

If you like Naija jams and east coast hip hop as much as I do, you’ll find Oga Boss from Ill Bliss to be an excellent album. A friend had shared the video of Anam Achi Kwanu with me from YouTube and that never stopped ringing in my head. So, one hot Lagos day in traffic a vendor straight from my dreams flashed the Oga Boss album in my face and I copped it fast! Slamming beats, strong clear lyrics, and the best Igbo lyrics on music I have ever heard make this album deserve its car stereo repeat mode status. While Anam Achi Kwanu has one of the best hooks on the album, collabos with Phyno, Naeto C, Ice Prince,  Banky W, Chidinma and Timaya are also notable. There's no skipping any song here guys. I promise you. If I had to pick two songs, they will have to be Anam Achi Kwanu and Hustlers footsteps. Just when I was getting used to sophomore albums being bland, vacuous and often a waste of N150, Ill Bliss comes and makes me a believer again.

Here's a verse from track 2 - "illyminate":

"Abeg I beg no dirty my shirt
E be like say some of them don forget
Apply the pressure, hook them for neck
No air for your windpipe, you go kpai o!"

The album comes out from Capital HIll Music / The Goretti Company and the songs are produced by – Suspect, Phyno, Legendury Beatz, XYZ, Slivastone, Wizboyy, Wazbeat & Del B. 
Ill Bliss, that Ibo boy, has definitely arrived and he is taking no prisoners with Oga Boss. Buy it, roll up your windows and jam it loud...that's what this one deserves.

See link to Anam Achi Kwanu here

Share your opinion of the album and your favorite tunes from it here.


Monday, December 24, 2012

There is a Country – Lessons From the Motherland

Hello Everyone. Today is guest writer’s day. Recently a friend shared a post with me on Facebook on a young man’s story of being faced with a situation where he was basically invited by a politician to “come and chop” as a means of bettering his lot. There was also an attempt to throw in tribal sentiment and turn him against his current colleagues, friends and neighbors of another tribe. His tale is not only compelling, I find it also to be an example of the kind of behavior which will change this country one person at a time. I remain inspired by this narration and re-assured that there are some out there who are determined not to contribute to the already immense rot in the polity.

I promise that Kaycee Obijiaku’s experience will touch you in a positive way. The style of the narrative is also unique and very effective.
Comments are welcome.


Princess Isabelle:   The king desires peace.
William Wallace:     Longshanks desires peace?
Princess Isabelle: He declares it to me, I swear it. He proposes that you withdraw your attack. In return he grants you title, estates, and this chest of gold which I am to pay to you personally.
William Wallace:     A lordship and titles. Gold. That I should become Judas?
Princess Isabelle:   Peace is made in such ways.
William Wallace:    Slaves are made in such ways!
(From the movie “Brave heart”)

If you are not confused...
We all are prisoners of conscience. Some may have made an ingenuous albeit perverted effort to escape this captivity, but ultimately, such warped effort will fail because it is beyond the reprobate to find the bars of this cage. I will share a story with you.

If you are not confused...
On the 17th December 2012, upon the invitation of a serving Commissioner, I travelled to a State in Eastern Nigeria. I had an inkling that the purpose of this invitation was to discuss the possibility of an appointment in the State’s public service, besides this, I had no further knowledge of what to expect. As I anticipated, the reason for this invitation was simple: the Commissioner wanted me to work in a new department that had been created within his Ministry. According to the Commissioner, this new position would give me an opportunity for self-enrichment and a chance to stake a claim to the wealth of the state. I promised to consider his offer and revert to him shortly. The next day, the sum of N250k was paid into my bank account. According to the Special Assistant to the Commissioner, the money was the Commissioner’s way of saying “thank you” for honouring his invitation. There is probably more where that came from. I have deliberated on this lucrative job offer and I have reached a decision. My decision is based on some factors which are not farfetched…I am a Nigerian, I am broke and I desire a better living condition. My decision shall be communicated to the Commissioner via this note, which you now read. I have omitted the Commissioner’s name, portfolio and state. At the end of this write-up, you may begin to understand the reasons behind my decision. In the event that this write-up leaves you confused, then do not worry; you are on the right path.

If you are not confused...
What have you done to bring heaven into this hell? In the past few weeks, a series of events have transpired and with hindsight, I understand better the essence of these happenings and the inherent lessons thereto. I do not believe in coincidence. There is a reason for every occurrence and sometimes, one just needs to be tuned to a higher frequency to be able to decipher the story behind the story. Some weeks ago, I was invited for a conference organized for people of Ibo origin. The aim of the conference was to create avenues geared towards the advancement of the Ibo nation. Although the civil war is long over, it remained imperative that the Ibo man does not forget his origin and never lose his voice. The conference was geared towards promoting awareness on the need to continually strive to ensure that the Ibos had a place on the national stage and remain relevant in the scheme of things. I agree that it is important that we never forget why the champions of Biafra fought and the standards they upheld. I have my personal ideals, which shape my thought pattern and my actions, and I am very much convinced that secession is never the solution to the Nigerian problem. While I admired what the organizers of this conference aimed to achieve, I was also wary of any hint of insurgence or incitement to do wrong; there was none. It was simply a forum to keep the awareness alive. We left the conference each resolving to ensure improvement in our daily affairs and lead exemplary lifestyles within our own sphere of influence. It was at this Conference I met the Commissioner.

If you are not confused...
Is it possible for one idea to change the world? Shortly after the conference, an Ibo acquaintance that was also present sent me a video of a documentary on the Biafra War produced by the BBC. When I was done watching this documentary, the anguish and reality of the carnage dawned on me. May we never experience war again. It wasn’t long before I started feeling this renewed warmness towards my motherland and I longed to visit eastern Nigeria again. When the Commissioner’s invitation came, I was thrilled and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to reconnect with the motherland. In fact I longed for an opportunity to contribute my own quota towards the progress of the land of the east. And it was with this high hopes and aspirations that I took the morning flight to the east.

If you are not confused...
When my flight landed in eastern Nigeria, I was horror struck. Was I still in Nigeria? Poverty, filth and confusion permeated the entire environment. I was appalled by the living conditions of my bewildered tribesmen. Scenes from the documentary I had watched kept flashing through my mind. Was there still a war going on? I quickly got a cab to transport me to the Commissioner’s office. On arrival at the office complex of the ministry, which the said Commissioner headed, I was greeted by an even greater shock. See, I work with as a civil servant with the Lagos State government and I know the general conditions one is likely to meet in government offices but even this pre-conceived idea of the general condition of government offices couldn’t have prepared me for the heartbreak that I witnessed. Filthy, disorganized and absent of any form of dignity or humanity. And in year 2012 when the Personal Computer is getting smaller and more advanced, I saw typewriters. A dilapidated structure full of dead appliances left a lot to be desired. The condition of the civil servants was even worse. Diseased, filthy and disoriented faces greeted me. Surprisingly, this unfortunate lot seemed content with their fate. The official bus of the ministry was worse than the commercial buses that ply Lagos roads. I was ushered into the Commissioner’s officer and then I was back in civilization. That such state of the art office could exist in the midst of such lack is a testimony to the Nigerian condition. Split AC, flat screen TV, mahogany desk, wine cabinet, decent lighting. His official car was a Toyota Prado SUV.

If you are not confused...
He told me how impressed he was when he had a discussion with me and how he wanted young smart men of Ibo origin to come to the east and be a part of the emerging revolution. Interesting. He explained to me that the job I was been offered came with an official car, an apartment, a good salary and allowances. He was always quick to add that the job position was a goldmine and I could make so much more. I still remember the look of disgust in his face when in response to his question; I replied that I had not started developing any landed property of my own. He assured me that I could make enough money to develop my own property if I relocated to the state. He had this glint in his eyes when he excitedly advised me to resign my appointment in the Lagos state civil service where in his opinion, the prevalent tribalism would stiffen my growth and prevent me from making big money. He spoke with so much disdain for the Yorubas and encouraged me not to waste my time serving Yorubas when I could come over to the east and make much money. I thanked him for his most generous offer and I promised to get back to him soon. The next day, the sum of N250k hit my already empty account.
If you are not confused...

Now, I am a Nigerian, I am broke and I desire a better living condition. Based on these premises, I humbly reject this job offer. Are you confused?

If you are not confused...
A war of people is deadlier than a war of Kings. We begin to die when we cease to live for what is right and when we have so deadened our conscience that dishonesty and unjust enrichment doesn’t faze us, then we have turned from men to something darker. And if with such education, exposure and responsibility, this Commissioner can still possess the mentality he portrayed, then I am ashamed to call myself an Ibo man. A man who feeds off his fellow men is no longer a man, he is a wild beast and he should be treated as such. When you become so comfortable as to live in such affluence in the midst of such poverty, then you have become a disease, a cancer that does not belong to the body of reasonable men, and your fate is to be severed, condemned to be a pariah, a plague, and a curse. The enemy we battled against when our forebears boldly declared Biafra is no more, the enemy of present day Biafra lies within Biafra. That a man entrusted to be a leader amongst men should prefer to rape his people and recruit young men to join in this feast of hell is testimony to a malady, a strange disease that has overtaken our national consciousness and left us as vampires, hungry for the blood of others. The enemy of the Ibo man is the Ibo man and by extension, the enemy of Nigeria is within Nigeria.

I remember now what the people of eastern Nigeria witnessed during the civil war and all their misfortune pales beside what the Ibo man suffers today. During the war, the enemy could be identified and it was plain for all to see that we were indeed at war. Today, the enemy is faceless, he is within our household, and while our bodies and minds continue to be ravaged by the evils perpetuated by these powers in high places, we have learnt the hopeless response of suffering and smiling and kept blind faith in political processes that continually churn out spawns of perdition: We are in peace time. But if we agree it is a time of peace, then why are the bombs going off? Why are people being kidnapped daily, what’s responsible for the gun duels and armed conflicts? Why are people emigrating? Why is every household and community now responsible for its own security and survival? Children get killed in Newton by a known assailant and the United states is thrown into a time of national mourning and the media is agog with the gory tale, there are already talks of impending stricter gun control measures and security in schools but Nigeria lost over 40 students in Adamawa in an Al Capone Valentine day style massacre and we do not even remember their names. It is simply another day in Nigeria. Time of war? No it is a time of peace. Are you confused already? If you are, then be easy, you get me. “…He killed them, shedding their blood in peacetime as if in battle, and with that blood he stained the belt around his waist and the sandals on his feet. Deal with him according to your wisdom, but do not let his gray head go down to the grave in peace”

If you are not confused...
All that talk of Massob, Biafra and all? To what end? Where is the marginalization? Who is marginalizing whom? You marginalize your own people and you point accusing fingers at another? I have lived in Lagos my entire life amongst the Yorubas and I work with the Lagos state government. There has never been an occasion where I felt marginalized or shortchanged based on my tribe. Some of the most wonderful people I know are Yorubas.

If you are not confused...
The spirit of tribalism and all its inherent evils is merely a diversion by wicked men to channel the purported cause of their cursed existence at the doorstep of another. If there’s one thing I learnt from my trip to eastern Nigeria, it is simple; the madness called Nigeria does not derive her madness from tribal differences, those who preach tribe are either confused or intend to create a diversion, the filth permeates every tribe and every sphere of society.

If you are not confused...
And because an able bodied Nigerian such as myself can be hungry, broke and looking for better living conditions, I shall not take such a job offer and lend my assistance to the acts that will only further make of Nigeria a failed system and a synergy that wouldn’t work. I shall rather continue to contribute in whatever way towards the salvaging of the nation and the preaching of the gospel of change, which I so much desire. And I know that one day, based on this gospel and the uniting of like minds, we shall have a change. Let’s have another civil war! This war shall not be a war of tribes, but it shall be a quest to secede from a corrupt Nigeria and form a new Nigeria void of a corrupt system. We shall not fight this war with guns and bombs; we shall fight this with our lifestyle and our minds. We shall be bold enough to say no to corruption and we shall drag every erring leader before the people’s court and sentence accordingly.  Just as the flag and emblem of Biafra was half of a yellow sun representing a rising sun; this new movement shall offer a new dawn and a new deal.  This is my strategy, this is how I intend to thrive. A country is not a chattel; it is not an extension of one man’s wallet. My survival is what I stand for when standing is most difficult. Before the people, let it be noted in my decision here that this is how I intend to live my life.

If you are not confused...
Must one go on to live that a nation may die? I know we cannot have a perfect world, on the contrary, I know that the traces of corruption may always be amongst us. True the troubles of the world are perpetual, but by virtue of that, am I supposed to turn my back and live in self-ordained ignorance?

If you are not confused...
Can it be done? Can we stay liberated from corruption? I believe it can be done. N250k would have meant a lot to me especially during the yuletide period but it meant more for me to pass a stronger message across to Mr. Commissioner. Some of us cannot be bought with money. You can train a Dog with food, you can tame a man with money, but to think you can put a price tag on my conscience? You insult me. You insult me. You insult me. I can work for any state government, it wouldn’t be a big problem leaving Lagos state but the motivating factor must never be the urge to make easy and corrupt money. I have been working since 2008 and I have never made a dishonest penny in my life; I do not intend to start now. I can live a good life, I can cause a change, I can shun corruption and I can be the change I intend to see. Henceforth, being an Ibo man shall simply be for anthropological and cultural purposes. It shall never be for any other purpose. I am first of all a Nigerian before any other thing. My allegiance to my God, my nation and my family shall come far above allegiance to tribe. Biafra died in 1970, may it remain dead and buried and may we forge ahead with the difficult task of building a better Nigeria. It can be done.

If you are not confused...
The man who stands by and says nothing, when the peril of his government is discussed, can be misunderstood. If not hindered, he is sure to help the enemy. What are you doing to cause a change? Are you the kind who wouldn’t think twice before making dishonest money? And after you have made the money, what else? It is the tragedy of existence to think that the money you make determines how well a life you live. Yours is a cheap life if it can be reduced to currency. A time should come when stealing shall become a thing of disgrace in our nation, when dishonest men would resign their appointment from public office out of shame, a time when the system will work so well that it would be difficult to make a mess of things. The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays, is coming to its close. In its place we are entering a period of consequences.
If you are not confused...
The reasons for the events of the past few weeks are clearer to me now. The fight for Biafra wasn’t a fight between tribes, it was a fight against injustice and man’s inhumanity to man and while my tribe lost, I have learnt a lesson from those events. You should too. The coming war shall be the war of the mind; the fight of wills, how strong is your will to do right? Would survival instinct make you do wrong? Or would the instinct to survive make you decide to do right? For the sake of posterity and for the sake of your nation, for the sake of your own soul and your own happiness.

If you are not confused...
I shall not be bought, I shall not sell my soul and in every way I can, through the power of the written word and through an exemplary lifestyle, I shall continue to strive to do well. I have purposed in my heart never to be a part of the problem. I shall never make a dishonest penny in my life, I shall never cut corners and I shall always endeavor to do right. A system where corruption is enthroned will make monsters of men. It will make heroes of thieves and it shall so happen that men who steal money and generously share this ill-gotten wealth would be convinced that they are helping people and they are doing well. Such a system will not know what to do with you. It will deceive you into believing that you are saving lives even as you destroy your nation. You will accept its lies and all the while your hands will be stained with the worst of offences until your mind becomes divided into warring factions and a hitherto pure heart will soon know suffering far beyond your worst nightmares.

If you are not confused...
It isn’t enough to preach change, pray for change or hope for change, you must be the change you desire to see. In the few years I have served with the Lagos State Government, I have put in my best effort and I have done my work diligently. I have never earned a dishonest penny and I have never had any reason to regret my stand. My hard work has ensured that I am able to get by. Recently, based purely on diligence and dedication to work, I was transferred to a parastatal under Lagos state and I resume work there by January. This promotion was not lobbied for and neither do I plan to go and enrich myself in this new office, far be it from me. The same dedication and exemplary lifestyle I have shown in the Lagos state ministry of justice is also what I intend to portray in my new office. It can be done and I intend to do it. Not everyone can make a difference, I agree. However, for me, the choice to lead an ordinary life is no longer an option. I am the change.
I have sent a copy of this write-up to the Commissioner via email. I expect him to be a little upset, but then my story just had to be told. And I have told my story. If there’s is still a job opening in eastern Nigeria that would enable me impart lives and play my part in nation building without glorifying a corrupt system then I just might consider the offer. My solace remains in the fact that I am not alone and every now and then I see glimpses of hope and restoration that will come. God will not let our efforts be in vain….

If you are not confused...
I requested the S.A to the Commissioner to send me his account number; I gave him the impression that I would explain to him later what the money I was paying into his account was for. I have forwarded the sum of N250k into his account and I have mailed this write-up to the Commissioner and him. I called him to tell him that the money belongs to the people of that state and it should be returned thereto. I reject the offer because I am a Nigerian, because I am broke, and because I desire a better living condition. In 2015 we shall approach the polls; may we start the process of change already?
And only wise men will understand…tonight I go home with an empty bank account, I shall sleep soundly, I am happy, I am free.
If you are not confused...then you do not understand what is going on.

(This one is for Eno-Abasi: kindred spirit and “Rocket Scientist” and without whom the inspiration to write this wouldn’t have come. We have a long road ahead, we have taken the first steps in the right direction, and all will be well)

By Kaycee Obijiaku on Friday, December 21, 2012